The lush and lovely Huon Valley of Tasmania
Down in the Far South of Australia
Tasmania is different from the rest of Australia, it's greener, wetter and much colder. It's a tiny little place, only about the size of Ireland, and sits roughly 150 miles off the southeast corner of the mainland, directly south of Melbourne.
I love it here, in the cool temperate rainforest. It's a bit of a shock if you're used to warmer parts of Australia, but remember to pack the strong sun-block cream. The sun is fierce in Tasmania no matter the season.
The Huon Valley is in Tasmania's Far South, the most southerly point in Australia. Next stop - Antarctica!
The Huon Trail
Safe Driving Route along Waterways
The best way to enjoy this pristine region of waterways and wilderness is to drive around the quiet country roads and highways.
Along a clearly defined and safe-driving touring route you will discover just what it is that makes the Huon Valley a place of beauty - the World Heritage Wilderness.
The views are superb, spectacular scarps and intensely beautiful coastlines with towering sea cliffs along estuaries and sheltered waterways. The Huon and Picton Rivers are the focus for a range of activity from gentle cruising to white water rafting amongst magnificent forests.
Surfing Beaches - For serious Surfers
Unspoiled, Uncrowded Surf Beaches
Despite the cold water, the surfing beaches are fantastic, unspoiled and uncrowded.
For serious surfers, Bruny Island and South Cape Bay receive enormous swells from the Southern Ocean and Antarctica. The huge waves frighten me and I just look at them!
History of the Huon
Tasmania was almost French
The coastlines of the Huon Trail were first charted late in the 18th Century during the race between England and France to chart and explore new lands.
Captain Cook landed on Bruny Island in 1780. Two years later, the French sent in their explorer, Rear Admiral Bruni D' Entrecasteaux .
The photo is of 'The Neck', a long, narrow, sandy isthmus which connects the two halves of Bruny Island. It's a magical place and this image was selected as Picture of the Day on Wikipedia for November 24, 2009.
Australia might easily have been named La France Australe as the French sent numerous expeditions to southern seas. They left their legacy in hundreds of French names on the Australian coast.
Recherche Bay - Former Whaling Station
Recherche Bay, another French 'discovery' was the site of a whaling station during the 19th century.
It was isolated from the main areas of early settlement, exposed to easterly gales and with a terrain that discouraged European agriculture. When the English established prisons in Tasmania, they left Recherche Bay alone.
In Memory of the Whales - A sad part of Tasmanian history
Tasmania was once part of the whaling industry. There are former whaling stations scattered around the south, and this sculpture reminds visitors of those days.
You'll find it at Cockle Creek, a tiny seaside settlement tucked away among the tranquil coves of Recherche Bay.
Cockle Creek Beach - The farthest south you can drive in Australia
Lovely Cockle Creek on Recherche Bay, part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
Bruny Island - Seals, Seabirds, Penguins and Dolphins
Down the highway from Hobart, Bruny Island is home to a large colony of some 8000 seals. There is also a penguin rookery, seabirds and dolphins.
The Island is formed with a dramatic weathered coastline, the second highest sea cliffs in Australia, dolphins, seabirds and penguins.
The best way to see it is on a guided boat tour and I fully recommend the excellent and very affordable tours from Bruny Charters
Take the Ferry to Bruny Island - Keep your camera handy
The Mirambeena travels over to Bruny Island ten times each day from Kettering and back again.
Crossing to the island takes 20 minutes and offers excellent views of the D' Entrecasteaux Channel from the upper deck.
On the way over keep your camera handy for the seals and dolphins who follow the wake. I can't describe the thrill of seeing these delightful creatures frolicking around the ferry!
The Huon Gourmet Trail
Down here among the Gondwanaland plants, boat building, apples and aquaculture, the little towns yield many surprises.
Boutique wineries, farm-door cheeses and world class eateries are interspersed with art galleries and home-spun wool craft outlets
Huon Valley Cheese
The Best Cheese Ever!
Grandvewe Cheese is a family run business specialising in Sheep's milk cheese from their herd of East Friesland (Friesian) Sheep.
They are also organically certified and have a range of Organic Wines to complement their cheese.
Drop in for a wine and cheese tasting afternoon, relax and take in the view overlooking the D'Entrecasteaux Channel and Bruny Island.
Have a chat with Cheesemaker, Diane Rae, Winner of the 2004 Tasmanian Rural Woman of the Year Award and the 2006 Telstra Business Womens Innovation Award. She'll tell you about the health benefits of organic cheese and a peptide found in sheep's milk which could help prevent Alzheimer's disease.
For a very reasonable postage, Grandvewe will ship cheese and wine anywhere in Australia.
More details at Grandvewe Organic Sheep Cheesery
Hastings Caves - Spectacular Formations
Hastings Caves were formed over 40 million years ago, and discovered by white settlers in 1917.
The spectacular formations include flowstones, stalactites, columns, stalagmites and helictites.
Thermal Springs are near the cave complex, warm water set in glorious surrounds with towering eucalypts and stunning rainforest ferns. The Thermal Pool, fed by a natural spring, is an ideal 28 degrees Celsius all year round. It's an ideal spot for family relaxation.
Don't expect a luxury spa resort, this is a naturally heated swimming pool in an amazing surround. Just beautiful!
Tahune Air Walk - Thrilling!
The Tahune Air Walk is a suspended tree canopy walk that offers up amazing views of the Tahune State forest, nearby Hartz mountains and the Huon and Picton rivers.
You get a birds-eye view of a wet sclerophyll forest, with tall eucalypts and rainforest species in the understorey. Some of the things you'll see are treetops of King Billy pine and Celery Top, Sassafras and the flowering Leatherwood. Many of these trees are rare species - some found only in Tasmania.
You must experience this! Don't let the wind make you jump - I confess to an involuntary shriek the first time - the walkway is built to withstand winds up to 180 km. The steel framework is supported by 12 concrete towers embedded in the forest floor and stabilised by three elastic steel guy cables designed for each tower.
It's perfectly safe for little chidren and full wheelchair access is available.
Tasmania's South on Video
Warning! Keep your hat on
If you're popping down to Tasmania, remember to pack a good strong sun block cream, in summer and in winter.
Tasmania is pretty far south and the sunshine is constant in winter even if it's cold. With so much water around, the sun's rays are magnified and Antarctica, with its brilliant sunlight, is close by.
The Australian sun is always harsh - keep your hat on.
Each and every comment is appreciated. You don't have to be a Tasmanian Tiger to leave yours
© 2008 Susanna Duffy